Qumtura monastery, (towards) Kuqa, Xinjiang, CN

Raw data

"The Buddhist heritage of Uyghur culture in the Qizil, Qumtura, Bezeklik, Siggim, Murtuq, and other Buddhist monasteries of Uyghur-Land is a very important component of Uyghur civilization." Kamberi (2005:20)

"The Bower Manuscript in reality is a collection of seven distinct manuscripts, or it may be called a collective manuscript of seven parts. […] Detailed studies of the mss indicated to Hoernle that the writers of Parts I- III and Parts V-VII were Indian Buddhist monks. The mss is written in Indian Gupta script. The use of birch-bark for writing shows that they must have come from Kashmir or Udyana. Hoernle thinks that they passed the mss into the hands of the writer of Part IV, who would seem to have been a native of Eastern Turkestan, or perhaps of China. But the ultimate owner of the whole series of manuscripts, Yasomitra, must have held a prominent position in that monastery. For this collective manuscript was contained in the relic chamber of the memorial stupa at the Ming-oi of Qum Tura, built in his honour."

"Die Tausend-Buddha-Höhlen von Kumtura (Qumtura) (chin. 库木吐喇千佛洞, Kumutula Qianfodong, engl. Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves) im Kreis Kuqa (Kucha, Kutscha etc.) (库车县, Kucha xian) im Uigurischen Autonomen Gebiet Xinjiang liegen 25 km westlich von Kuqa (Kucha) am linken Ufer des Muzart-Flusses (Weihe)."

"Kumutula - Before the third century, Buddhism was introduced into the Kingdom of Qiuci of China’s Western Regions from India and Central Asia. The Kumutula grotto murals in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region may be rated as a treasure-house of Buddhist art in China.
The Kumutula Grottoes were built in the fourth century. Most of the murals in the grottoes depict stories of Buddhist scriptures in the ancient Qiuci style. The unique style ingeniously mixed together the images of figures in the Western Regions, exquisite decorative patterns and intricate line drawings.
In A.D. 684, the Tang Empire took control of Qiuci in the Western Regions and established the Anxi Protectorate. After that, the government of the Tang Dynasty built grottoes and temples in Kumutula, bringing ideas of Mahayana and mural art of the Han and Tang dynasties to the locality. […] Many Han Buddhist monks came here. […] Kumutula was an early transition between Kezi’er Grottoes and Dunhuang,” said Liu Xilin, director of Research Department of China Art Gallery."

"Kumutula Grottoes, located some 30 kilometers southwest of Kuqa County, are Buddhist caves and have another name Kumutula Thousand Buddha Grottoes. Those grottoes were first chiseled in the 4th century and abandoned in the 11th century or so. "

"Kumtura Caves
       The caves are located at the outfall of the Weigan River , about 30 kilometers northwest to Kucha, on the cliff of the Mountain dinggu by the eastern bank of the river. The listed 112 caves can be divided into southern and northern parts, inclding worship caves, monk's caves and a few meditation caves. The murals remained here are only 4000 square meters. Speaking of the excavation time, the caves belong to 3 periods. The earliest period is the 5-7th centuries, the artistic style is typical local, namely Qiuci style, the 2nd period is between the 8th to 9th centuries, the artistic style from inner China appeared here on some paintings, and the latest period rangs from the 10th century to 11th century or later, Uighurian style became prominent."

A bibliography of scholarly publications dealing with Qumtura is given in:
Yan Shen. 2009. Conventional Donor Costume of Cave 79 of Kumtura Grottoes. Asian Social Science, Vol. 5, No. 1. January 2009. pp. 138-147. http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/viewFile/550/532

Input by: tmciolek, Dec 15, 2010

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 09 Jul 2014

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Qumtura monastery, CN.

General location of the Qumtura monastery, CN.
Lat 41.72895 Long 82.89944
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2010.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Qumtura monastery - Kamberi (2005:20)

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • China:Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 41.72895 Long 82.89944 - based on the visual recognition in maps.google.com/maps of a site located on a plain near Kucha, and labelled "Kumu Tula Qianfu Cave" - tmciolek, 16 Dec 2010.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

MBM chrono-tag 0333-66p - tmciolek 09 Jul 2014
0333-66p 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66c 0467-99c 0500-32c 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66p dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

MBM chrono-tag 0667-99c - tmciolek 09 Jul 2014

13. Date-late

MBM chrono-tag 1033-66p - tmciolek 09 Jul 2014

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • A Selective Chronology for Buddhist Caves in China - Waugh (2000). Date: 4th (?) -7th c. Cave: Kizyl/Qumtura Remarks: Obvious Indian influence; "Dome of Heaven," "Lantern Ceiling".

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • archaeological

16. Additional notes

  • 14 Uyghur Buddhist caves in Kumtura - Barat (n.d.)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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